“London has a very unique proposition,” said Liam Bailey, Knight Frank’s global head of residential research. “There’s no other city that compares as a global hub for so many different sectors."
The world had almost 200,000 ultra-high-net worth individuals last year, according to the broker’s wealth study, with more than two-thirds of them across Asia, Europe and North America. Europe is the biggest regional center for this population globally, while the surge among Asian economies means the world will have more than 20 million people worth at least $1 million for the first time this year.
Asia’s economic growth is boosting luxury investments worldwide. Last year, China and Hong Kong buyers accounted for about a quarter of purchases in London homes worth at least 2 million pounds ($2.6 million), according to Knight Frank, almost doubling from two years earlier. The region’s rich also boosted demand for luxury collectibles, helping push the broker’s Rare Whisky 100 Index up 40 percent last year.
Rarity and provenance also drove sales of art and vintage cars to new highs in 2018. Highlights include the $48 million auction of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and the $90.3 million bid for a David Hockney painting, the most paid at auction for a work by a living artist.
“Direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing point to the growth of whisky as an asset class,” Bailey said in reference to routes introduced last year by China’s Hainan Airlines. “There’s still a desire for wealthy individuals to dedicate part of their portfolios to tangible items.”